Community and Neighborhood Information

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Community and Neighborhood Information

Understanding the Lease

No matter where you live, you will be asked to sign a lease. A lease can be an overwhelming document with lots of technical terminology. Don’t let it intimidate you! Be prepared to sign by reviewing these tips and common terms.

Keep these tips in mind before you sign…If possible, always visit the property and individual unit that you will be renting before singing the lease to verify everything is as described. Be sure that it is the place you will be satisfied with for the duration of the lease.

A lease is a binding document which means that you are responsible for any fees, fines, or consequences outlined in your lease. Be prepared take measures to avoid being charged.

If you plan to have roommates, discuss how bills will be paid, split up responsibilities for household duties,and create a roommate contract to hold each other accountable.

If anything in the lease is unclear, set up a time to speak to Student Legal Services to make sure you fully understand what you are signing

Important Terms to know

Lease: A lease is a legally-binding contract. Once a tenant (the person renting) signs a lease, he/she is committed to all the terms of that lease, including being responsible for all money owed for the entire term of the lease, even if there are extenuating circumstances beyond their control. Be sure to understand what you are signing. Even if the apartment complex requires a guarantor, the lease is binding with only the student’s signature. Lease terms very, but most leases will come with a full year (12 months) term.

Individual Lease: An individual lease is when each tenant has a separate lease and pays individual rent payments.
In most cases, each tenant will be required to have their own guarantor on their lease. Tenants are responsible for their assigned individual bedroom and bathroom. However, each tenant has shared joint responsibility of common spaces.

Group lease: A group lease is when all tenants are on one lease and make one payment. All tenants are equally responsible and liable for the property. At least one guarantor is responsible for the entire property including payment and damages. Typically, utilities are not included, and therefore it is up to the tenant to obtain the services and put them in their name. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Sublease: If you are considering studying abroad or living elsewhere for the summer, you are still responsible for your lease. Many students find a living arrangement that allows subleasing or the ability to transfer a lease. In a sublease, you’ll find another tenant to rent your room or apartment for the period of time you’ll be absent. Students can use the Off-Campus Student Services Message Board to find students to take over their lease or to find a room to sublease.

Security Deposit: A security deposit is money paid to the landlord to ensure that rent will be paid and all terms of the lease will be met. Security deposit amounts vary and may be as much as a full month’s rent. Usually a portion, if not all, of the deposit is refundable after you fulfill the terms of your lease. At the end of your lease, the landlord cannot withhold your security deposit for normal wear and tear like minor painting and carpet cleaning. If the landlord does withhold any or all of your security deposit, they are required to provide you with an itemized list of charges. Set up a time to speak to Student Legal Services if you believe your deposit is being withheld unjustly.

Guarantor/ Co-Signer: A guarantor is someone who signs the lease along with the tenant. Full-time students are typically required to have a guarantor. In most cases, a guarantor must earn 3 times the monthly rent. Guarantors must agree to have their credit and rental payment history checked by the landlord before qualifying. The tenants’ failure to pay rent may impact the guarantor’s credit score.
Application Fee: Some apartment complexes require an application fee before leasing the property. This is typically a one-time nonrefundable fee.

Renter’s Insurance: Renter’s insurance is a policy that protects your apartment and property from theft and damage. Students are encouraged to obtain renter’s insurance when renting a property because typically a landlord’s insurance policy will not pay for losses of your own personal property. Since property losses are typically unexpected, the insurance serves as a means of protection. Students may be covered under their parent’s homeowner or renter’s insurance policy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                           Eviction: Eviction is when the landlord/property terminates the lease agreement. The landlord/property has the right to terminate the lease if a tenant damages property, fails to pay rent, violates terms of the lease or commits a crime. Set up a time to speak to Student Legal Services if you believe you were evicted for unlawful reasons.

Understanding your personal finances is the first step in making financially-responsible off-campus living decisions!
What does it cost to live off-campus? When you move off-campus, budgeting becomes crucial. Making sure you set enough money aside to cover all your expenses is vital for a successful off-campus living experience. Here are some questions you should consider before selecting a place to live:

Will you be able to afford rent for the duration of your lease?
What is included in your rent? Are all utilities included, or do you have to pay extra?
Does your rent include a utilities cap? If so, can you afford to pay for utilities if you exceed your cap?
How long is your commute to campus from your desired place of residency? Can you afford to pay for gas and parking?
Does your off-campus community provide a shuttle to and from campus?
What will food, school supplies, and books cost? How do these factor into your other living costs?
Will your residence be furnished or will you have to purchase furniture? If the apartment/house is furnished, is there a fee associated with it?
If the apartment is described as “partially furnished”, what furnishings are included? What furnishings will you
need to purchase yourself?
What should be included in a budget?
Income: this includes any source of money you have coming in. This can be paid from work, an allowance, gifts, or loans. Your income is not just a paycheck – Think outside the box!                                                                                                                                            

Monthly Fixed: Necessary monthly expenses that do not change in amount (example: car payment, rent)
Monthly Variable: Necessary monthly expenses that vary in amount (example: power bill)
Periodic: Necessary expenses that occur on an irregular basis with varying amounts (example: purchasing textbooks)
Discretionary: Expenses that are wants, not needs; “fun “ or “extra” expenses (example: going to the movies)
Budget: the actual budget is the combination of the total income and expenses. It is usually categorized and balanced. It details the monthly spending patterns and is used to configure future spending plans.

What should my budget look like?
Your budget should be tailored to you and no one else will be able to tell you how exactly to spend your money.
Those decisions are yours to make. A budget simply gives you a strategy and helps you visualize where your money is going, so you can use it to keep needless or unintentional spending to a minimum and save some money for unexpected expenses.